Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Wilsonville Public Library, Wilsonville-Boones Ferry Historical Society and McMenamins History present…

Haldane “Buzz” Holmstrom – Oregon Boatman Who Changed Grand Canyon River Running History

Wilsonville Old Church & Pub - Wilsonville Old Church

5 p.m. doors, 6:30 p.m. event


All ages welcome

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Qualifies for “Attend a McMenamins History-Sponsored Event” Experience Stamp.

About Haldane “Buzz” Holmstrom – Oregon Boatman Who Changed Grand Canyon River Running History

Haldane “Buzz” Holmstrom – Oregon Boatman Who Changed Grand Canyon River Running History

Presented by: Vince Welch, Author & former professional river guide


In the fall of 1937 Buzz Holmstrom, a gas station attendant from Coquille, Oregon, became the first person to complete a solo transit of the Green and Colorado Rivers (through Grand Canyon). He made the 52-day, 1,100-mile voyage in a handmade wooden boat, the Julius F. When he reached Boulder City, Nevada, he sent a telegram to his mother, “OK at Boulder Dam. Haldane.” Overnight the modest Oregonian became uncomfortably famous nationwide. The following year Portlander Amos Burg read about Holmstrom’s voyage in the Saturday Evening Post. The well-known National Geographic photographer and filmmaker immediately contacted Holmstrom and suggested they film a re-creation of Holmstrom’s previous epic voyage. Holmstrom, eager to return to Grand Canyon, agreed. The pair launched in August 1938 from Green River, Wyoming. Burg, rowing an inflatable raft, would be the first to pilot such a craft through Grand Canyon. Holmstrom became the first known oarsman to row every rapid in Grand Canyon. The previous year, due to impassable rapids, he had been forced to portage the Julius F., four times. Learn more about Holmstrom, his other river voyages, and his untimely death on the Grande Ronde River in N.E. Oregon in 1946. This presentation includes a screening of Burg’s film Conquering the Colorado, nominated in 1939 for best short documentary.


Copies of Vince Welch’s books, The Doing of the Thing - The Brief, Brilliant Whitewater Career of Buzz Holmstrom and The Last Voyageur – Amos Burg and the Rivers of the West, will be available for autograph and purchase at the presentation.


About Wilsonville Old Church History Pub

Wilsonville Old Church History Pub

These monthly, free events are open to everyone interested in Oregon and Pacific Northwest history. Co-sponsored by like-minded historical and civic organizations, we bring you experts, scholars, first-person experiencers and historians who expound on topics from Lewis and Clark to shipwrecks, hop growing to women pioneers and far, far beyond. It's like being back in the classroom - except this time you get to settle into comfortable seats and enjoy a drink or two with dinner while you listen and learn.

This event is eligible for a History Pub Stamp